You did — with all apologies to the President (I kid) — build it. You built a company. You invested an enormous amount of time and effort and resources into creating a company and now that company is alive and doing its work.
You built a company. That’s terrific. Now the question is: What will you build with it?
With some exceptions (porn companies, for instance), private enterprise delivers numerous social goods. Companies don’t have to direct funds toward charitable purposes in order to be engaged in doing good. They already are doing good. They provide meaningful work, they provide salaries that enable their employees to take care of their families, and they provide helpful services and products. At their best, companies are people banding together to do something good and redemptive, to participate in the restoration of culture and creation. But they can do more. They can harness the talents and treasures their company has assembled and put them behind social transformation.
One of the best examples I know is Avalon Consulting, which has worked with Patheos and other companies to develop enterprise-scale websites. (I speak as an expert on the interwebs.) I’ve come to know several of the leaders at Avalon, including Tom Reidy (founder and President) and Casey Green (EVP). Both are committed Catholics and involved in numerous charitable enterprises. Tom and his family have been involved for decades in a fantastic ministry called the Working Boys Center in Quito, Ecuador, and yesterday a video came across my desk that explains the work it does:
What I especially love here is the way in which Avalon as a company has gotten involved. Avalon has won national recognition and earned good money building enterprise-scale websites, and they steer some of their revenue and a lot of their expertise pro bono toward world-changing projects like the Working Boys Center. As Mitt Romney has said, companies are people too, and often they’re filled with caring and generous people who want to use the resources and experience they’ve gained for good.
When we think of companies that are changing the world for the better, we often think of charitably oriented for-profit enterprises like Toms Shoes, or perhaps companies producing culture-redeeming products like my friend Brent Dusing’s Lightside Games. But companies that earn good money in exchange for excellent services, and provide meaningful work to people that puts food on their table and a roof over their families’ heads — and then direct their time and talents and treasures to worthy causes — are making a difference too. I had a friend who was the director of Pfizer’s charitable giving, and they (like many pharmaceutical companies, frequently maligned) were making massive and measurable differences addresses diseases like AIDS in Africa.
So what can your company do? I’m proud of my friends, Tom and Casey, and hope others are following the same model. One of our bloggers — you might have heard of her — has encouraged her readers to send notes about the companies they’ve built. The response has been overwhelming. In the same vein, please leave a note in the comment about the good work your company is doing. You built it. Now build something with the fruit of your labors. Show that your company is a part of making a better world.